Early symptoms of cancer in males can include changes in bowel habits, the testicles, and urination. However, the signs will depend on the type of cancer. In some cases, symptoms do not appear until a later stage.
Some people may not notice the early signs of cancer or may confuse them for symptoms of other conditions. Knowing which symptoms may indicate cancer can help a person get treatment sooner.
Symptoms that could be indicative of cancer include:
- Changes in bowel habits
- Urination difficulties
- Weight loss
- testicular changes
- Breast lumps
- Skin and mouth sores
- Persistent cough
- Abdominal pain
- Bone pain
This article explores in more detail these 10 common early warning signs of cancer in males. Some of them can also apply to females. To learn more about cancer in females, click here.
A note about sex and gender
Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. Click here to learn more.
Occasional bowel habit changes can occur for various reasons and are usually not a cause for concern.
However, long-term bowel changes
Both hemorrhoids and colorectal cancer can cause itching, pain, rectal bleeding, and bloody stools. However, hemorrhoids tend to flare up and then get better, so symptoms may only appear intermittently. If a person experiences persistent or increased bleeding from the rectum, this may indicate cancer rather than hemorrhoids.
Other symptoms of prostate cancer can include:
Minor changes in body weight can occur throughout the day. Large meals, intense workouts, and drinking water can temporarily affect a person’s body weight. However, people who experience unintentional weight loss should speak with a doctor.
A 2017 study defines unintentional weight loss as a person losing more than
Unintentional weight loss does not necessarily mean that a person has cancer. However, people should not ignore this symptom as it can be a warning sign of many different health conditions.
According to the
Other symptoms of testicular cancer can include:
- pain in one or both testicles
- changes in the size or firmness of a testicle
- pain or numbness of the scrotum
- swelling of the scrotum
- a dull ache in the groin
Testicular changes do not always indicate testicular cancer. Bacterial and viral infections can also cause swelling and pain in the testicles. However, it is still important for anyone who notices changes in their testicles to see a doctor.
Below the nipples, males have a small amount of breast tissue that contains ducts. Breast cancer in males often begins in these ducts and spreads to the surrounding breast tissue.
Breast changes that can indicate cancer include:
Males who notice any of these changes in their breasts should speak to their doctor.
Early-stage oral cancer can cause large red lesions or open sores in the mouth. Some people develop leukoplakia, a condition in which white or gray patches occur on the inside of the mouth and the tongue. If they do not receive treatment, leukoplakia can progress into oral cancer.
Tobacco use can significantly increase a person’s risk of developing mouth sores, leukoplakia, and oral cancer.
A cough that does not go away or worsens over time
Other symptoms that can indicate a serious condition include:
Persistent or recurring abdominal pain or nausea can indicate a digestive issue, such as IBS or gastroenteritis. These symptoms can also sometimes occur due to either stomach, bile duct, or pancreatic cancer.
If a person experiences stomach pain along with any of the
Bone metastasis can cause a dull, aching pain that may initially come and go before remaining constant. Cancer can also weaken bones, making them more prone to fractures.
Fatigue describes a constant feeling of tiredness or lack of energy. Many chronic conditions, including cancer, can cause fatigue.
Some cancers, such as leukemia and lymphoma, can disrupt the production of red blood cells, which transport oxygen throughout the body. People who have a low red blood cell count may experience fatigue due to less oxygen circulating in the body.
Tumors compete with healthy cells for essential nutrients, and healthy cells will die if they cannot get enough nourishment. Uncontrolled tumor growth can cause fatigue and rapid weight loss.
Fatigue from cancer
There are some early symptoms that
Some types of cancer may not cause noticeable symptoms until the later stages when the disease spreads to other body parts.
However, staying vigilant and being aware of bodily changes can help people get a diagnosis sooner. Early diagnosis and treatment generally improve a person’s outlook for most cancers.
People should see a doctor if they have any of the following symptoms:
- abnormal moles
- lumps in the breast
- a persistent cough
- blood in sputum
- bloody stool
- blood in urine or semen
- unintentional weight loss
- chest pain
- bone pain
- chronic headaches
The following are additional answers to questions about cancer in males.
What is the most common cause of cancer in males?
How should males check for cancer?
Males should always pay attention to their bodies. If they notice any abnormalities, they must speak with their doctor. Males should also complete recommended screenings such as a colonoscopy, fecal occult blood test, and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) exam.
When should males check for cancer?
Males should start screening for cancer at age 45. If a person has any concerning symptoms that last longer than 2 weeks, they should also talk with their doctor, especially if they have certain risk factors or have a family history of cancer.
In the U.S., males are
A person can also take part in screening tests for cancer. For example, the
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force also recommends that adults
Early diagnosis and treatment generally improve a person’s outlook for many types of cancer.